Saturday, March 17, 2018

Freedom Hawk’s New Song is 100% “Solid Gold”

Preview the tracks "Solid Gold" and "Danger" here.  Freedom Hawk is one of my favorite bands, and I have yet to be disappointed by one of their releases.  I pre-ordered the CD quite some time ago (for my very favorite bands, I need to have the physical copy), but this is the first time I have found a preview of any of the tunes.  Can't wait to get my hands on it and hear the rest.  You can order the CD from Ripple Music's website or download the electronic version through Ripple on Bandcamp once it's out on the 23rd.  

Freedom Hawk is:
TR Morton: Guitars, Keyboards & Vocals
Lenny Hines: Drums
Mark Cave: Bass
Brendan O'Neil: Guitar

Novices will say that TR Morton sounds like Ozzy, but in reality Freedom Hawk sounds like Freedom Hawk and no one else.  There is essential stoner rock on each and every Freedom Hawk album;  go out and find them if you are new to this band;  you will not be disappointed.  
Until next time, stay heavy!


Monday, March 12, 2018

DEAD  MEADOW: The Nothing They Need
Twenty Year Career Converges to This Masterpiece

Steve Kille, Jason Simon, their three drum players over the years, and Corey Simon (extra guitar) have all gotten together to create Dead Meadow's finest release, entitled "The Nothing They Need".  This is my favorite, finally replacing my previous favorite, their self-titled debut album.   All the releases in between are high quality as well, but this one is overall a bit more energetic, with a bluesy heaviness on every track, and the production quality is excellent, really emphasizing the talent of each musician.  
No band over the years has managed to sound so sleepy and dreamy, while keeping words like "heavy" and "Sabbath-y" appropriate.  Here is one of my favorites, "Nobody Home":

Now another great one, "Here With The Hawk":

As mentioned, "The Nothing They Need" has contributions from former drummers Mark Laughlin and Stephen McCarty, as well as guitarist Cory Shane, but the current core lineup is:
Jason Simon: Vocals, Guitar
Steven Kille: Bass
Juan Londono: Drums

2018 is really promising to be an epic year for Stoner Rock, with this classic joining releases from Weeepecker, Fu Manchu and Crypt Trip, and a new Freedom Hawk album about to be released.  I need extra hours in the day just to be able to listen to all the great music I've already added to my library this year.  I've got a couple of things to share next weekend as well.  Until then, keep it heavy!

Saturday, March 3, 2018

FU MANCHU: Clone of the Universe
New Manchu: What else needs to be said?
Go out and get this bad boy; Just like every other Fu Manchu release, Clone of the Universe simply delivers in places that you can't talk about in mixed company.  If there's ever been a band that perfectly epitomizes what rock and roll is all about, it's Fu Manchu.  Bob, Brad and the two Scotts have produced another classic.  Here is the lead track, entitled "Intelligent Worship":

And here is the closer, "Il Mostro Atomico", featuring none other than Alex Lifeson:

Fu Manchu is:  
Bob Balch: Lead Guitar
Brad Davis: Bass
Scott Reeder: Drums/Percussion
Scott Hill: Guitar, Vocals

2018 is shaping up to be a historic year in the world of rock:  New Weedpecker, New Fu Manchu, New Freedom Hawk about to be released, and I am still holding out hope for a new album from the best rock band ever, Tool.  You need to purchase the new Fu right here.  Until next weekend,

Saturday, February 24, 2018

If you have checked out our links page, perhaps you have checked out the Desert Psychlist, written by Frazer Jones.  If you have, you realize that he does what I do, faster and better than I do.  Frazer's recommendations are sure bets, and I have been following his blog, as well as his bandcamp page, for years.  I have been so impressed by Frazer's ability to identify huge quantities of great music every month, that the thought finally occurred to me to ask him for an interview.  
He was gracious enough to accept, and here is the result:

Ultra: Frazer, as I have told you, I follow you on Bandcamp, and check in on your blog on a regular basis.  While I appreciate some of your recommendations more than others, not once have you recommended something that I disliked.  With the amount of music you buy and the volume of reviews that you produce, I find myself amazed at how you manage to keep up with it all.  First of all, how do you manage to find out about all these relatively obscure but great bands? 

Frazer: Well thanks for following me on Bandcamp and checking out my blog Mike, you’ve sort of answered, in part, your own question as I also follow others on Bandcamp as well as using its excellent feed option to see what others are listening to and buying. My main source of discovery however is from a Facebook page I am a member of called Hard Rock Revolution ( ) which is a cabal of like minded people from around the globe constantly sharing their discoveries, many of whom are also bloggers, podcasters etc. Of course, as Desert Psychlist has grown I’ve also managed to attract the attention of a number of record companies and PR firms who send me a steady stream of promos and newsletters.

Ultra: How much time are you able to make for listening to new music in your average week?

Frazer: I’m very lucky in that I have a day job that allows me to have most of the early afternoons and evenings free to listen to music and write my reviews. My children have all grown up and left home and my wife works the weirdest hours as a health career so I’m often home alone, just me, the dog and my music.

Ultra: How many listens do you usually give to an album before posting a review?

Frazer: Good question. I usually give an album a spin from start to finish to decide whether it’s just something that appeals to me or is something that might appeal to a wider fan base. If I think it's something worthy of a Desert Psychlist review I will then play it while I’m writing my review, constantly re-playing tracks, trying to catch those little nuances and hooks so I can best describe them to a reader and give him/her a feel of what I’m hearing.

Ultra: When you are listening to new music, are you multitasking, or just totally immersed in the music?

Frazer: Usually, and I say usually as its not always the case, I try to give a release my full attention relaxing with my feet up, eyes closed, headphones on. Life often has a tendency to get in the way so that approach is not always practical, on those occasions I try to get a feel of an album while dealing with something else hoping that I can find some free time to go back and re-evaluate later.

Ultra: The mark of a truly great album, I think, is when you are still listening to it years later.  How often are you still listening to an album that you reviewed a year later?

Frazer: All the time, I don’t believe in hearing something then moving on to the next thing, I go back and listen to albums from 70’s, the 80’s and even last week on a regular basis. As I reply to this question Elder’s “Lore” is playing in the background!

Ultra: What were some of the first rock bands you were ever into?

Frazer: Oh an easy question! All the usual suspects, Sabbath, Zeppelin and Purple etc. along with many (then) lesser known 70’s bands such as Stray , Pink Fairies and Sir Lord Baltimore. I’ve always seemed to have a thing about finding gems buried among the coals of the rock underground. Got a give a big shout to Rory Gallagher too, he was/is one of my all-time heroes.

Ultra: How about a few of the best concerts you’ve ever seen?

Frazer: So many, in my youth I was a regular attendee at London’s famous Marquee so saw many bands who are now legends strutting their stuff at the start of their careers but I suppose Black Sabbath at the East Ham Granada in 1973 ranks highest, they were at the height of their powers and just slayed that night. If though you want something a little nearer to the present then a filthy, rainy Sunday night in North London was made so much better by a blistering performance from Greece’s Planet of Zeus, phenomenal live band.

Ultra: What are a few of the albums you’ve probably played the most in your lifetime?

Frazer: Deep Purple’s “Made In Japan” is never far from the turntable nor is The Allman Brothers “ At Filmore East”, Egypt’s first EP and Elder’s “Lore” are also  releases fast moving to catch up

Ultra: Can you give me a few of your favorite album covers of all time?

Anything with Roger Dean artwork is always going to get my attention especially Yes’s “Close To The Edge” and the cover to The Clash’s “London Calling” is just so iconic but everything pales into insignificance against the artwork gracing Bell Witch’s latest release “Mirror Reaper”, stunning!

Ultra:  You are from England, aren't you?

Frazer: Yes, you're correct. I was born in the East End of London although I now live on a little island in Essex, England that juts out into the Thames River called Canvey Island.

Ultra: Are you willing to give me a top ten albums of 2017 list?  I am so curious to see if we have any of the same picks.  (Several of mine I came to know about through you)

Frazer: Checking out my Desert Psychlist best of 2017 will give you not only my top ten but also another twenty …

Ultra: Some of the bands I am most anxious to hear something new from would be Salem’s Bend and Rainbows Are Free.  What are a few bands whose next releases you are most anxious to hear?

Frazer: I’m looking forward to hearing where UK’s Cybernetic Witch Cult may take us next as I love what they do and there is a band called Sun of Grey who released a fantastic two song EP last year, I’m very interested to see how they progress.

Ultra: Finally, I am curious to hear how you feel about the label “Stoner Rock”.  I think it’s relatively easy to determine whether music deserves this tag, yet it’s really tricky to define the category.  It seems pretty safe to say that being called stoner rock entails being heavily influenced by rock from the 1970’s, including everything from mellow trippy rock to super heavy.  But I also think that relative obscurity seems to be a requirement as well.  For example, it seems to me that a band like Alice In Chains would be called stoner rock if they weren’t well known, but because of their huge success are never given the stoner rock tag.  Another thing that’s tricky about the stoner rock label is that the stereotype of a stoner is someone with little energy who can barely keep their eyes open, while so much of stoner rock is aggressive and energetic.  How do you feel about this analysis, and what insight do you have to offer on the subject?

Frazer: Stoner (or desert rock) was once associated with a certain sound and a certain lifestyle but I see “stoner rock” now as a catch all term for a variety of grooves that fall just outside of the rock mainstream, a sort of umbrella term under which doom, sludge and hard edged rock all reside. The druggy weed smoking connotations that were often associated with the term are slowly being swept away and we are seeing many of those band once classed as “stoner” branching out and experimenting with elements from other musical sources. Personally, it's all about the music and not the classification, if you dig it you dig it, if you don’t then move on.

Ultra: Frazer, I am honored that you have taken the time to share your thoughts and experiences with me, and grateful for all the great music you have introduced me to over the last few years.  I wish you all the best in 2018, and look forward to your next update.

Frazer: Thank you, Mike it’s been a blast,!

Once again, thanks to Frazer for taking the time to answer my questions.  Respect for seeing Sabbath in 1973.  Embarrassed I had missed Frazer's best of 2017 list, but glad I have seen it now.  Got a couple of reviews brewing, will have at least one to post next weekend.  If you need some good tips in the meantime, now you know where to look.  
Until next time!!


Friday, February 16, 2018

Epic Freebies


Epic Freebies on Bandcamp:

SUNDRIFTER: Vistitations
Let's start local:  From Boston, Massachusetts, Sundrifter just released their second album, and it's truly impressive, and a no-brainer of a download.  This band is happy to let you download "Visitations" for free if you'll just spread the word, assuming you like it.  Harry Harrison, one of 120 Bandcamp users who voluntarily paid cash for this freebie, summed up Sundrifter's sound far better than I could, like this: "A little bit of Kyuss; a dash of Sasquatch; a hint of Naam mixed with a tad of Sound Garden with an added helping of a ‘wall of sound’ provided by Steak. Throw in a bit of QOTSA and all this diversity gives Sundrifter."  Hear for yourself:

Sundrifter is:
Craig Peura- Vocals, Guitar
Patrick Queenan- Drums
Paul Gaughran- Bass

KAYLETH: Colossus
Next up, from Verona, Italy, is Kayleth with their sixth "name your price" release.  Kayleth's  guitar player, Massimo, reminds me at times of Mike Vitali from Ironweed and Greatdayforup, and that is no small compliment.  Kayleth's songwriting is really impressive, and includes great rock ideas from multiple decades.  Each track on "Colossus" brings something different to the table.  Here is track #2, "Forgive."  This one deserves some volume:

Kayleth is:
Massimo Dalla Valle: Guitar
Alessandro Zanetti: Bass
Daniele Pedrollo: Drums
Enrico Gastaldo: Vocals
Michele Montanari: Synthesizer

BLUE CHEESE: Reborn Into Void
Finally, from Montreal, Québec, is Blue Cheese.  Dirty, slightly fuzzy hard rock with some truly different but cool vocals.  Weird that Bandcamp says the album releases in April of 2018, but you can download it right now.  Here is the longest track on Reborn, "Dealer":
Blue Cheese is:
Chub : Vocals,Drums
Meredith :Bass, Vocals
Vick Trigger : Guitar, Vocals

I hope you feel like there's a been a second Christmas, with these three high quality freebies in mid-February.  You'll see I paid a few bucks for each of these releases on Bandcamp (I'm "ultramegadeth") because I liked them so much, but there is certainly no shame in grabbing them for free.  These bands are hoping you'll download their work and spread the word, as word of mouth is like gold for them.  

If you've never used Bandcamp before, just click on the blue links, then  click "buy the full digital album".  No credit card required; just an e-mail address, and the only e-mail you'll ever get from them is a "thank you" for downloading, and then notifications anytime the band releases another album.  That's it.

Hope you enjoyed these tunes and albums as much as I have, and I wish you a heavy heavy weekend.
Until next time    -ULTRA

Friday, February 9, 2018

STONER ROCK #20 (Playlist)
How do you like these apples???

Check out my interviews with Skunk and Spacelord below if you haven't already done so, and long live rock and roll!!

Saturday, February 3, 2018


In honor of Eagles vs. Patriots, which promises to be yet another classic, let's have a Philadelphia vs. Boston Stoner Rock Showdown:

First up, in green and silver, Philly's all-instrumental band SERPENT THRONE with 
"Speed Queen": 

Next up, Boston's own OLDE GROWTH hits back with "Warrior Child".  This is very unique stuff; just bass and drums, but really creative and super heavy.

Those were two bands who haven't released an album in quite some time.  Now for two from 2017:
Philadelphia's STINKING LIZAVETA with "Witches and Pigs".  

Now Boston's CORTEZ with "Walk Through Fire (In the Shadows of the Ancients, pt.I)":
One more from the Boston area, just because I can't help myself: "..And The Gods Made War/ Visions Of Gehenna"

There are only winners in this stoner rock battle, but we're most likely due for another close contest in Superbowl LII today.  (do the Pats ever blow anyone out in a Superbowl?)  
Hoping to see another Pats win, and entertaining a fantasy of a Pats blowout, even though I know the Eagles are too good for that.

Happy Sunday, and GO PATS!